22nd December - Habitat

Bushland provides the habitat within which lives all the wildlife which evolved there (or at least it did 200 years ago) so it is important to remember that a bush garden must also provide this habitat. Understanding what this may have looked like 200 years ago provides some difficulties. It is reasonably clear however, that the bushland of 200 years ago was nothing like the flammable scrubland of today. See for example the letter under "Hugh's Letter".

The bushland in Hugh's day was open grassy woodland. It did however still provide habitat for the wildlife of the day. Fallen trees would have remained where they fell. Patches of scrub would have existed here and there. But it was basically open grassy woodland. Whether it was kept that way by wildlife, burning or both is still a matter of conjecture. Evolution certainly seems to have produced the Prairies of America, the Steppes of Mongolia and the Veldts of Africa in conjunction with the grazing animals of those countries.

Probably up until 50,000 years ago the grazing animals of Australia would have kept the bushland open but how much the entry of Homo sapiens to Australia effected change is not well understood.

In any case it is now a mute point. The wildlife have gone. Fire, at least when it can be environmentally rewarding, is banned. So we now must keep our bush gardens open by simply bush gardening.

Although the grazing animals are gone there is still wildlife left however. We live in the Aldgate Valley which the local Landcare Group calls the "Valley of the Bandicoots". There are also possums, birds, reptiles, frogs, moths, ants, butterflies, etc. It is important to remember that indigenous animals need indigenous plants, especially insects such as moths and butterflies.

At Wirrapunga we have "safe" zone for birds and animals such as the bandicoot. Inside this safe zone our vegetable garden is situated which keeps us well supplied with fresh vegetables. The vegetables are protected by the wildlife which is encouraged to visit or live. A froggery supplies us with an abundant supply of frogs who then live out there life in our vegetable garden eating garden pests. Sometimes at night our windows are covered with green lacewings whose larvae feed on aphids and other garden pests. Birds are encouraged to visit and, of course, here there lives a number of small marsupials.

At Wirrapunga we believe in "Holistic Management" where each bit fits in and helps the other bits. Management methods are based on evolutionary principles and success is measured by results.